The holidays are a feel-good, yet extremely stressful, time of the year. The weather gets colder as cheeks look rosier, the holiday spirit is in the air and money is emptying out of pockets left and right. And the holiday ads? They are everywhere.
Coca-Cola’s polar bears are slipping and sliding in the snow enjoying the savory drink, while the Campbell’s snowman is yet again melting into a young boy enjoying his soup. These ads just keep pulling us in year after year.
Why? It’s because these brands simply do marketing well and their videos shine as bright as the lights on the Christmas tree.
As new media, like the internet and social platforms, are on the rise, brands take advantage of the vast audiences they can tap into through online video. Although holiday commercials can still be seen on TV, advertisers are using online video in order to create a deeper connection with their viewers by encouraging dialog in comments and gaining enough engagement to make videos go viral.
Especially during the holidays, brands are using video to tell a story, rather than blatantly using product placement to generate sales. It’s this storytelling that keeps viewers glued to their screens and watching the story unfold.
Brands have tackled all kinds of angles to tell a holiday story and draw engagement. So how can advertisers set their brand ahead of the crowd? Let’s look at some examples of 2016 holiday videos that have been making waves and grabbing attention.
A timely angle
Most holiday videos promote a feeling of togetherness, but British retailer and e-commerce platform Marks & Spencer added a modern twist to get its message across: Mrs. Claus. The creative minds behind this three-minute video not only tapped into the holiday spirit through amazing cinematography and feel-good music, but took the timely angle of female leadership front and center.
Mrs. Claus is usually more of a background character, but here she takes the spotlight in order to help a young boy who has written to her about wanting make his sister happy for Christmas. While the boy reads his story on voiceover, we see scenes of him innocently upsetting his sister and even ruining her shoes. While Santa gets the sleigh and squeezes down a chimney to deliver presents, Mrs. Claus gets to fly a chopper and simply walks through the front door to deliver a gift from the boy to his sister (a new pair of shoes from Marks & Spencer).
This video excels at telling a story that is so much bigger than just their product. How many viewers can relate to upsetting their siblings and wanting to make it better? Marks & Spencer did a fantastic job at making the viewers more attached to the brand and creating that connection between the viewers and its video that they will remember. It can secure buying decisions that potential customers have without them even noticing.
Another brand that added a much different, yet extremely effective modern twist this year is Amazon Prime.
In this video, a Christian Vicar and Muslim Imam simply meet for a cup of tea. Although you can’t hear their conversation, the two friends sit, laugh and joke, and both complain about their aching knees. This exchange leads them to coincidentally exchange identical gifts through Amazon Prime: knee pads. They each are pleasantly surprised when they receive their gifts and are subsequently shown praying in their respective religious houses with their new knee pads.
The point of this video is to create an interfaith message during a time of separation and anxiety between religions. Notice that the video never actually mentions the holidays but does touch on that gift giving mentality in order to demonstrate that no matter your background or religion, we are all the same. It also helps Amazon Prime show off its social responsibility of using its technology to bring people together not only during the holidays, but all year round.
A unique twist
This time of the year is especially competitive between brands, and it can be tough for one to cut through all the noise. Adding in a modern twist can help a brand stand out.
Many holiday videos look the same and involve obvious product placement, but H&M tells a unique story in order to leave a lasting impression on readers that will have them running to the nearest H&M store.
In most video ads, the viewer can clearly tell what product or service is being advertised. H&M took a different route and subtly incorporated its new collection into its video commercial while telling a beautiful story through captivating scenes and vivid colors. This story is what keeps audiences engaged and subliminally viewing the new clothing collection.
Movie star Adrien Brody plays a train conductor and has to inform his passengers, who are on their way home to visit loved ones, that due to unexpected delays, the train will be arriving late to its destination and they won’t make it on time for Christmas. The conductor and his assistant aim to make the situation a little brighter and recreate Christmas in the dining car. All passengers make their way to the dining car and decorate the Christmas tree, and of course they all don their H&M gear.
The commercial was filmed by Wes Anderson, who brought his very particular filmmaking style to this ad. The cinematography, use of colors and unique use of sound to beautifully tell a story, with a less prominent focus on the actual product, is what makes this video stand out from the rest.
Every video promotes togetherness, which is essentially the point of the holidays. But how can a brand with key messaging that relies on “bringing people together” make itself stand out from the noise?
Heathrow Airport created a fantastic video ad about being together, because it knows really well that coming home for the holidays and being with family is the best gift of all.
There are millions of people making their way through airports all over the world every holiday season, but Heathrow focused on two extra special passengers in its video. It follows a couple that also happen to be senior teddy bears making their way through the airport. It follows them through passport control, getting their luggage at baggage claim, buying goodies from a shop and ultimately reuniting with their family at the arrivals section where their grandchildren run up to them with huge hugs.
Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke
This especially speaks to those big brands such as Coca-Cola. Here’s its 2016 ad:
The video follows a boy who spots the holiday Coca-Cola trucks rolling in through town. The song in the background plays “The Holidays Are Coming,” which is pretty fitting considering that you know the holidays are here when you spot the first holiday Coca-Cola ad.
Notice that while many of the videos that have stood out this year are between one minute and four minutes long, Coca-Cola got its point across in 30 seconds. Why?
Coca-Cola simply does marketing right. It’s consistently looked up to as having one of the best marketing strategies of all-time and steadily hits the nail on the head when it comes to stirring emotions. This 30-second ad is a smaller piece of a big story Coca-Cola is constantly telling. The brand is so recognized and so familiar all over the world–even in remote locations in the world–that 30 seconds is more than enough to send out its message.
By following this recipe for a great storytelling video, brands can also foster a real connection with its audience by sharing it online. Sharing these videos online and on social platforms encourages conversations in the comments, as well as through shares and likes.
Once you perfect this recipe and grab that attention and social demand you need from your audience, you can consistently create perfect video creations again and again.
Effi Atad is CEO of video-creation tool Showbox.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.